“Invincible”: A Refreshing Twist



FIGHT ON: Mark Grayson charges into battle on the planet Mars.

Matthew Dimaandal, Photo Editor

I never thought watching a high school junior getting beaten mercilessly by reanimated corpses, alien beasts and his own dad would get me this excited. Adapted from Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker’s original comic, the animated TV series “Invincible” provides a refreshing twist on overplayed superhero cliches.

The show begins as 17-year-old half-human, half-viltrumite hybrid Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) finally inherits the powers of super strength and flight from his father, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons), an alien from the planet Viltrum. Over time, Grayson is faced with the realities of being a superhero while trying to balance his life as a high school student. Throughout the show, it still plays with generic tropes of a typical superhero show: learning how to become a superhero, troubles with love-interests and a search for powers. But in many of these cases, the show still manages to thwart viewers’ expectations; Mark doesn’t instantly understand the role of a superhero, for example, shifting the focus to his mistakes and growth as a superhero. 

The animation style is decent enough to not warrant any complaints except for the few times CGI is used, which manifests as a jarring contrast between clean 2D animation and abysmal CGI that made me want to skip to the next 10 seconds. Admittedly, there are also times when the 2D animation fails to meet standards, including a scene in the second to last episode that looked like the animators just copy and pasted gifs of crows that fell down as though it were a Google Slides presentation. 

In contrast, the voice casting is phenomenal, likely a result of a significant portion of the budget being allocated to the actors. I especially enjoy Simmons’s complex portrayal of Omni-Man, as he successfully characterizes a warm, loving father figure only to suddenly switch to a ruthless world conqueror willing to kill anyone that gets in his way. Each cast member’s interaction creates an intriguing performance, building excitement to see whatever happens next.

With the amount of deaths in this show, there are an equal number of graphic fight scenes, more so than any I have ever seen in an animated show. Between guts protruding from the main character’s body to the remains of people from a train crash, gore-lovers have a whole lot to enjoy. This dark tone is set early in the series from episode one—rather than ending with the happy-go-lucky teenage superhero learning how to control his powers, the first episode  concludes with the show’s version of the Justice League being literally smashed to pieces by Omni-Man. Gruesome fight scenes are a constant part of the show, with the last two episodes being the most gory of them all. 

If they can get past the occasionally questionable animation, anyone searching for an animated series that pushes the envelope with bloody fight scenes will not be disappointed with “Invincible.” It’s eight episodes are rife with interesting characters and villains and an amazing voice casting make for an enjoyable binge-worthy experience. With Amazon confirming a second and third season, all I can do is sit down and keep rewatching Mark Grayson getting beaten up to a pulp.